Is Rostov pink and what is its history?

On the shore of Lake Nero, sits Rostov. Rostov is a part of the Golden Ring near Moscow. Unique because they are monuments to  Russian architecture, the Golden Ring is an example of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is due to them being made up of medieval kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. Some have become more modern than others as the years have passed. Rostov has remained in it’s old traditional Russia charm.

Rostov has existed historically as a religious center. Monk Jonah Sysoevich had the kremlin built from 1670- 1683 around the existing Dormition Cathedral. However, in the 18th century as Yaroslavl grew, Rostov was on the decline. Thanks to the fertile shores of Lake Nero, Rostov was able to maintain some status as a trade center. Even so, some wanted to tear part of the kremlin down for better storage for better trade as the 19th century approached. Thanks to artists, historians, and other concerned peoples, it was saved as a symbol of medieval culture. Then in 1953 a storm caused significant damage and another group of people had to rally for restoration. I imagine Zabelin was a part of this group, he even did some restoration work.

For a more in-depth history you can click here.  For history about the architecture you can click here.

While researching the history of Rostov, I got distracted by a few travel websites mentioning how a cathedral in Rostov is pink? This was interesting because when I was at Rostov I did not notice anything pink. Naturally, I swept through some photos of mine:


FB_IMG_1495743634370St. John the Theologian’s Gate-Church, the church with the most vividly green onion domes, is supposedly pink. In my images, and from my memory, of my summer 2016 trip- it is not pink. Below is an image of the Kremlin, taken in 2009. I guess restoration work was done at least between 2009 and 2016. Regardless, this changes how I see Rostov as the subject manner in art.

St John the Theologian's Gate-Church, Rostov Kremlin (June 2009)

Here are some other depictions of Rostov:

konstantin-yuon-rostov ‘The Rostov Kremlin’ by Konstantin Yuon

finift-1 Finift depicting the Rostov Kremlin

Since pink is a beautiful yet unusual color for buildings, I assumed the pink was used to provide contrast between the white snow or sky, a shadow, or quite frankly, I didn’t notice pink was used. However, it adds to the allure of Rostov knowing it can be repainted, and restored time and time again but still hold on to it’s medieval, and artistic roots.

Zabelin is praised for his true colors. Similarly to the impressionists he painted moments in time sensitive to how light and color coexist.  I believe the pinkness to the buildings only added a mystical quality to the sleepy town of Rostov. A bright sky, some bright white and soft pink building, bright green grass, and medieval feel basically lends it’s self to be painted in an impressionist manner. In the images below you can see some pink undertones and washes.20170527_170109 Zabelin, Rostov Evening, 1986, detail Z0025FLZabelin, Kremlin in Rostov, 1987



Zabelin, Impressionism, and Rostov

On my first trip to the Lazare Gallery I noticed a painting that looked vaguely familiar. But how could an art gallery so new to me, new in artists, subjects, and styles, have a piece I recognized?

Zabelin Rostov Veliki                            Vyacheslav Zabelin, Rostov Veliki, Oil On Canvas, 1973

Well, it is because Rostov had a lasting impression on me when I visited there this past summer. I truly felt like I had lived there in another life and am eager to return sometime, hopefully for longer than a day this time! The artist Zabelin must have had a similar experience because according to the art historian Sergey Alexandrovich Gavrilyachenko, Zabelin was caught off guard it Rostov’s archaic beauty. After graduation from the Surikov Institute, Zabelin and his peers went on a trip to Vologda to get away from the Soviet city life. From the train, they saw Rostov the Great and initially were only going to stop for a day but ended up never even making it to Vologda. Instead, they stayed for a long time in Rostov. For the rest of his days Zabelin returned to Rostov again, and again eager to paint its beauty.

zablin street in rostov                            Vyacheslav Zabelin, Street in Rostov, Oil on Canvas, 1990

In the book, ‘Zabelin: Master of Color- The Life and Works of Vyacheslav Nikolaivich Zabelin’ many were able to convey their admiration of Zabelin. This includes the owner of the Lazare Gallery John Wurdeman, who also played a large role in the completion of this book. In the preface he wrote about  personal experience with Zabelin. Wurdeman was introduced to the then living Zabelin after Wuredman’s son graduated from Zabelin’s studio at the Surikov Institute in 1998.  Wurdeman then began to acquire Zabelin’s works. By 1999 he was invited to Zabelin’s house to which Zablin noted to Wurdeman that his paintings “look best in frames.” He recalls having a very pleasant evening with the artist. Wurdeman on Zabelin’s work believes “…his easily recognizable style is already apparent by the spontaneity, and the bright and remarkable use of color and light, the very qualities that made him famous.” Wurdeman concluded with, “Zabelin, who was inspired by the French Impressionists, is perhaps, Russia’s greatest Impressionist, although he had his own unique voice.” Similar admiration can be felt throughout the book as many recounted memories and thoughts on Zablin.

Zabelin Rostov 1                               Vyacheslav Zabelin, Monastery in Rostov, Oil On Canvas, 1986

Thus I would like to take time to flush out some points of Zabelin and his work. Mainly, the beautiful city of Rostov and Russian impressionism because I feel that few know much about either of these. The contextual knowledge of Rostov and Russian impressionism only deepens ones understanding of Zabelin. Since long blog posts are ill advised, keep an eye out for more soon!

Strong Market

2010 was not a good year for most business, but it was a great year for Russian art. Sotheby’s alone sold $82 million. Christies sales – in all categories – shot up 53% in 2010. William MacDougall, of MacDougall Auctions told The Epoch Times, “Like most markets, Russian art suffered in the economic crisis, but it has been in recovery since April 2009. Over 90 percent of the buyers are based in Moscow and Kiev, where the economies are growing. Good works attract buyers, and new world records have been set since the crisis.”

Upcoming sales include Sotheby’s sale on April 21 and 22, and Christie’s sale on April 13 in New York.

Lazare Gallery’s Moscow River School exhibition is just wrapping up in Sarasota, FL. A new show of Vyacheslav Zabelin will be up from February 4 to March 11.